Question: One thing I’ve been thinking about is: am I willing to treat a person who has hurt me as well as I would treat those I consider my closest friends? (Assuming that it’s appropriate to interact with the person who hurt me) It seems to me that until I am, I’m falling short of the impartiality encouraged in Matt 5:44 (which says how God provides sun and rain equally for all people, whether good or evil). Does it mean that there are no consequences for the sin? Sandra
In Total Forgiveness Kendall addresses the issue of how we treat others after they have let us down or mistreated. There are consequences which sometimes can't be and shouldn't be removed when we forgive.
He talks about how a woman forgave a rapist and then, decided to testify in court in order to stop him from raping again. In that case, judicial consequences were meted out along with forgiveness. There are other examples given as to how relationships are affected when someone mistreats or abuses us. Here are some insights:
You may decide that a relationship may change because that person cannot treat you respectfully or keep confidences or may continue to abuse you. A change in relationship is not the same as forgiveness. You can let go of the blame and may decide to let go of any punishment and continuing to hold the wrong against a person - but, you may need to set boundaries and be cautious since:
... they can no longer be trusted with confidences or
... they are not empathic and tend to be harsh when you divulge a weakness about yourself or
... they are not responsible in keeping their committments or
... he continues to abuse and disrespect you.
Therefore, you forgive them, but, will no longer:
... share your mistakes,
... share your problems,
... rely on or ask them to do a project with you, etc.,
... stay in relationship with him/her because he/she is disrespectful or abusive.
You may decide to report an abuser to the police in order to protect yourself or your children but, you can still forgive them. Demonstrating tough love in abusive situations makes the person accountable to higher authorities for their behavior and you can still forgive. Pastor Rob Rienow said, "forgiveness does not mean freedom from consequences."Forgiveness does not mandate:
... that you trust all people on the same level or
... that you expect all people to live up to certain standards or
... that there will be no consequences for wrongful behavior.
Jesus had discernment about people. He said "don't throw your pearls before swine"; and "treat them as a tax collector and a sinner" if your brother doesn't reconcile with you and be "wise as serpents and gentle as doves" in all our relationships.
He also challenged us to: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" and "turn the other cheek".
So, pray for the one who has injured you. Love them with God's unconditional love and grace. Show discernment and gentleness when you interact with everyone. Believe that God is in the business of changing people. You may even take a risk or need to trust that person again!
Forgiveness doesn't mean you allow someone to continue abusing you. Forgiveness doesn't equal trust and doesn't mean there won't be consequences for the person or relationship and boundaries that need to change. Forgiveness will make you wiser and challenge you to be vulnerable!
But, more importantly, forgiveness will set you free!
© copyright 2003 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC
Order and read the following:
1. The Healing Power of Forgiveness
by Dr. Ray Pritchard
2. What's Good About Anger? anger management books and certificate courses
These books and programs teach how to turn your anger into faith, assertiveness, problem-solving, conflict management and forgiveness!
3. To Forgive is Human : How to Put Your Past in the Past
by Michael E. McCullough, Everett L. Worthington (Contributor), Steven Sandage (Contributor)
4. The Freedom & Power of Forgiveness
by John MacArthur